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Milwaukee Artist Mary Nohl: The Mary Nohl House

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The Mary Nohl House: The Witch's House of Fox Point
Milwaukee Artist Mary Nohl: The Mary Nohl House
Image by Carrie Trousil

The Mary Nohl House in Fox Point is the fodder for many Milwaukee urban legends. Known to most local school kids as "The Witch's House," Mary Nohl's house and yard are filled with whimsical and bizarre concrete sculptures.

Stories abound about "the witch's house," but the most prevalent was one that claimed Nohl's husband and son had drowned in Lake Michigan just off shore from the Nohl home, and that Mary, having gone a little batty, had created these sculptures to keep watch for the lost pair.

While morbidly exciting, that story is not true. In fact, Nohl had never married, and she never had any children. Born in 1914, Nohl attended the Art Institute of Chicago, and after graduation she became an art teacher. After the death of both her parents, in the 1960's, Mary lived alone in the family home, which she began transforming into an art environment. As the yard filled with whimsical creatures, the legend of the house began to grow. Nohl died in 2001, at the age of 87.

During her lifetime, Nohl donated much of her work to the John Michael Kohler Art Center, in Kohler, Wisconsin. After her death, her home, including all of the art within and without, was given to the Kohler Foundation. Today, the Mary Nohl house is listed on the Wisconsin Registry of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places. It has also been nominated as a Milwaukee County Landmark. The home, located on Beach Drive, is private and not open to the public.

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